Chesapeake contact tracers "overwhelmed" by number of COVID-19 contacts

Posted at 2:13 PM, Nov 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-30 16:38:21-05

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - Contact tracers are currently "overwhelmed" by the number of people they have to contact to tell to quarantine, according to Chesapeake Health District Epidemiologist Lisa Engle.

"[Contact tracers] have kind of gone to a system of having the person that is positive let their close contacts know that they're positive and telling them themselves to quarantine," said Engle.

The tracers have been doing this for about a week as the number of new cases continues to rise. Still, people who are considered high risk will be contacted by the health department.

"The others - we're walking them through to contact because they're unable to keep up with the demand right now," said Engle.

The spread is happening because people are gathering together, according to Engle. "It's not going to a restaurant because they're doing a good job mostly," she said. "It's going with your friends because everyone I guess thinks their friends are safe."

Modern technology has also been a tool used by the health department. More than 850,000 people have now downloaded the COVIDWISE app.

Still, health officials remain concerned about the upcoming winter. "We're all tired of this. I'm not going to lie," said Engle. "We all want to get back to our lives and I'm just telling you there is a way to do it safely: wearing a mask, washing your hands, and social distancing."

Click here for full coronavirus coverage.